As Yogi Berra would say, it was a case of ‘deja’ vu all over again.’
Austin Cordell was stingy on the mound, and the PikeView bats broke open a close game with four runs in the seventh, and the Panthers advanced to the Region III, Section 3 championship game with an 8-1 win over James Monroe on Thursday night at PikeView High School.
PikeView (20-10), which used the same formula to beat Bluefield earlier 7-2, will play either the Beavers or Mavericks (7-15) in the championship game tonight at Bowen Field.
“One more,” Cordell said, “but it has to be done.”
James Monroe managed to collect 11 hits, but scored just one unearned run off Cordell, a sophomore southpaw, who struck out eight and walked just one.
“You have got a lefty that is around the plate and has pretty decent velocity like he does, they are hard to hit,” James Monroe head coach John Mustain said. “Any major league scout will tell you that, they want those lefties and he did a whale of a job.”
“When you have got a lefty like that and he is around the plate, he is tough, he pitched well.”
PikeView, which had eight hits, scored single runs in four of the first six innings, and also added four in the seventh, highlighted by a three-run double from Hunter Moses.
Cordell, much like Kevin Cottle in the first game win over Bluefield, was confident the PikeView bats would eventually push across some runs.
“I didn’t worry about it because my defense is good behind me and I knew we would get the bats going some time because we always have that moment where we start hitting,” Cordell said. “That is what usually happens so hopefully we can just keep on going and not have that happen anymore.”
PikeView scored a run in the first on a Moses double and a sacrifice fly by Cottle, and added a run in the second when Jon Clark singled, moved up on a single by Carter Shrewsbury and scored on a ground ball out by Keian Lee.
That would be all the runs Cordell would need.
“He did a great job early in the game,” PikeView head coach Josh Wyatt said. “While we did that same old PikeView thing of we can get runners on second and third and not come up with that hit.
“We manufactured two runs early and I think that helped us.”
James Monroe was able to slice the lead in half in the second when Mustain’s son, also named John, reached on an error, moved up on a Derrick Honaker single and scored on a single by Devin Carr. That would be all the runs the Mavericks, who lost for the seventh straight time.
“Unfortunately we were like that all last week too,” Mustain said. “We had a terrible week last week, I was hoping maybe we would break out of it tonight, but we didn’t.
“At the same time their boy pitched well. He pitched a whale of a game.”
Just a sophomore, Cordell was able to mix his pitches up, and strand 10 Mavericks on base.
“I love being a lefty, the curveball works good,” Cordell said. “I like to not throw the same pitch twice, to keep them off-balanced.”
Wyatt added, “He pitched a great game for us, kept them off-balanced the whole game. They got a few hits off us, but he held them in check.”
PikeView added single runs in the fifth and sixth on an RBI double by Hardin and an RBI single from Shrewsbury, and then broke it open against James Monroe ace Caleb Brown with three hits in the seventh, including a bases-loaded double from Moses and and RBI single by Zach Meadows.
“Back in the drivers seat of things, everything comes through us now,” Wyatt said. “It is all the pitching performances, two great outings and the bats come alive at the end of the game.
“We played for the big inning and it happened for us.”
James Monroe, which had beaten PikeView twice by one run during the regular season, faces a must-win scenario this afternoon with Bluefield. Win there, and the Mavericks would have get past the Panthers to set up an ‘if necessary’ game on Saturday.
“Bluefield is going to be hard for us to handle too, we have had a tough time with Bluefield all year,” Mustain said. “These kids here, I have been expecting their bats to break out everytime we have played them and it happened tonight.
“That is a good team, Josh does a great job with them.”
Moses and Shrewsbury had two hits each for PikeView, while Cottle drove in four runs. Micah Deskins, Mustain, Honaker and Carr had two hits apiece for the Mavericks.
Cordell is hoping PikeView can keep playing good baseball when it counts most.
“If we play like we did today,” Cordell said, “we will go pretty far.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
at PikeView High School
PikeView.........................110 011 4 — 8 8 2
James Monroe................010 000 0 — 1 11 1
Austin Cordell and Hunter Moses. Caleb Brown and Ryan Page. W—Cordell; L—Brown. HR—none.